Ever thought about where public perceptions about PR come from? For many people, it’s 1990s/early 2000s pop culture – where PR is shown to be all about long champagne lunches with clients, glamourous product launch parties, and the famous ‘little black book’ of contacts.

Today, marketing activity increasingly takes place online, and the power of SEO, Pay Per Click, influencer marketing and targeted social media ads has left many business owners wondering whether PR has become irrelevant. If they can amplify their message to millions through targeted social media ads, and get their website to the top of their audience’s search results – why would they need PR?

Harriette Bond, PR and Content Director at PMW Communications, discusses:

“The historical portrayal of PR in pop culture is certainly not accurate in 2022. People often reference the sitcom ‘AbFab’ – which is definitely not an accurate depiction of PR at all!

“Just as the media has changed dramatically in the last decade, so has PR. Digital media and technology have changed the media landscape, resulting in more media outlets and greater opportunities to measure PR activity. PR can also support an SEO strategy. At the same time, the traditional media is still a highly trusted and much-loved source of information for many consumers, so traditional PR activities – like pitching to newspapers, magazines, television, and radio – are still alive and well.

“However, for nearly all our clients, traditional PR activity takes place alongside a digital PR strategy. Far from being irrelevant, the opportunity to take advantage of new forms of media and support marketing activity in other areas like social media and SEO, means PR campaigns are more creative – and more technical – than ever.”

Here are five reasons why PR is still relevant in 2022:

Customers spend many hours per day consuming media

A 2022 survey by eMarketer found that the UK population spent an average of 6hrs 6mins consuming digital media and 4hrs 8mins consuming traditional media (this included multitasking – such as listening to the radio while driving or scrolling on social media while watching TV).  Brands need to be where their customers are – and it’s clear that consumers are interacting with a huge amount of both traditional and digital media every day.

Each type of media attracts a different demographic – giving brands a great opportunity to focus their PR campaigns on the outlets their target audience is interacting with.

PR enhances credibility

Every business wants a positive brand image. Companies can shout about how great they are themselves, or pay for advertisements, but what really builds credibility is when someone else says how great a brand is.

According to research by the Content Marketing Institute, 80% of business decision-makers would rather gather their information through articles, than through advertisement, and 70% of consumers would rather get to know a company via articles than ads.

PR is all about getting other people (aka. unbiased, third-party media outlets that consumers trust) to speak positively about a brand. This enforces a business’s credibility and builds an excellent reputation among their industry and their customers.

Digital PR builds backlinks

Backlinks represent a ‘vote of confidence’ from one site to another and are a crucial pillar of good SEO. A digital PR campaign is one of the best ways to achieve high-quality backlinks. PR professionals will embed relevant links into press releases and outreach articles. People reading the article may follow the links – but the real win is that these links help a site to become more visible. Credible backlinks are a primary Google ranking factor, so having lots of them in the right places can help a site climb up the Google rankings.

PR and social media are a match made in heaven

Social media is the most influential of all the new forms of media that have emerged since the advent of the internet. And the good news is, PR and social media campaigns do not need to be separate – in fact, they complement each other brilliantly. Social media can boost PR’s efforts to share information and build trust in your brand.

Remember Doritos’ Wimbledon-inspired Strawberries and Cream flavoured crisps, or Lynx’s Marmite scented social distancing body spray? A great PR stunt can go even further than it could in the past – by creating a buzz on social media. Check out these examples of PR stunts that went viral.

Content is king

Whether it’s through blogs, thought leadership articles, case studies, or opinion pieces, having a constant flow of original content benefits businesses enormously.

According to research by HubSpot, B2B companies with blogs generate 67% more leads per month on average than non-blogging firms  – and 68% of consumers like reading content from a brand that interests them.

PRs are experts at producing great content for their clients – demonstrating expertise and providing added value through great content that has a real impact on a customer’s purchasing decisions.

PR professionals can also work alongside an SEO team to create keyword-rich website articles that answer the questions their clients’ customers are asking online – increasing relevant web traffic and providing greater opportunities for leads and sales.